Sunday, May 29, 2011

Clematis and a Mystery Caterpillar

It's officially summer here when I spot the first swallowtail caterpillars in my curly parsley and rue. Hooray!!

 At first glance I thought both caterpillars were the same but the caterpillar in my rue has raised orangish bumps with black spikes and black and white lines. Hmmm.... What kind of swallowtail do you think this is?



This is the caterpillar for an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a huge yellow and black butterfly commonly seen in my garden.


They devour the curly parsley that I plant just for them. I sow several pots of parsley every spring and let the flower heads self-sow sporadically throughout the summer to keep the caterpillars well supplied. I've never found them on my flat leaf parsley. Curly parsley grows well in hot, dry spots. If you give it too much waer, it will rot.


'Roguchi' clematis are beautiful purplish-blue bell shaped clematis that bloom all summer.


They die to the ground every winter so you don't have to worry about how to prune them. I leave the stems in place and then cut them to the ground in early spring.


13 comments:

  1. Love your caterpillars! I have a huge rue plant, but I've never seen swallowtail caterpillars on it. I wonder how to let them know it's here. I grow flat-leafed parsley, so I guess I won't see them there.

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  2. It is so nice of you to plant curly parsley for the caterpillars. I sometimes think they are almost as pretty as the butterflies :). Great pictures, thanks for posting!

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  3. i once grew rue and every year is was covered with those very same type of orangey bump caterpillars. Unfortunately, the rue grew much too large for its alloted space, and i had to take it out. I planned to plant some in another area, but amazingly it has been hard to find. You remind me of why I want it, and I am going to search for it, even if i have to buy on-line!

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  4. Lucky you! I haven't seen any caterpillars on my parsley yet. Could the caterpillar on the rue be that of a black swallowtail?

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  5. Aren't caterpillars the weirdest creatures? You have captured some great shots. I like to hear that you plant parsley just for them!

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  6. haven't seen any cats yet. the parsley, fennel, and dill are in prime eating shape however. Hope to see something soon.

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  7. Zdecydowanie wolę motyle niż gąsienice, chociaż kolorowe.Pozdrawiam

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  8. I haven't seen any since the first batch was eaten off the parsley ;/ Yours are looking fat and happy!

    Sending much gratitude to your son for his service to our country.

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  9. The butterflies have just recently returned here. Took a detour with all our smokey fire-filled skies. I can hardly wait for them to get busy in the garden.

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  10. I've never seen a clematis shaped like that...it's lovely!

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  11. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden
    Sadly, I have no experience with these caterpillars. I wish I did because I would love to have more butterflies in the garden. The tiny purple clematis is just beautiful.

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  12. What big juicy caterpillars, my boys would be thrilled if we had them in our garden, they are gorgeous! Also, love your clematis, so pretty!!

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  13. Perhaps it is the same caterpillar, but at a different "instar" of life stage.

    We're raising Anise Swallowtails in our urban garden in Oakland California.

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